Assistant Manager previews Raith

Dunfermline Assistant Manager, Dave Mackay, knows what it is like to lift the Scottish Cup having had the honour of being captain of the St Johnstone cup winning team in 2014. Last season Inverness Caley Thistle made it to the Scottish Cup Final and Dave admitted that for a Championship side it needs a little bit of luck going their way to get that kind of cup run:-

“Obviously, you need a bit of luck and other teams to go out the competition, or you catch them on a bad day, but you’re only six games away from winning a trophy and four from getting to Hampden and you can get the luck of the draw as teams did last year. Falkirk got to the semi-final without playing anybody, really, of any stature.

“Darvel knocked out Aberdeen and then Falkirk got Darvel. Sometimes you just find yourself getting a little bit of a fortunate draw, although you’ve still got to go and win those games, obviously. You just never know what will happen and there’s no reason why you can’t dream that you can go far in the competition.

“We’re the exact same. As players and staff you want to have a good run, especially in the Scottish Cup with the prestige it holds.  It’s been shown in the past 10, 15 years, not with the number of teams who have won it, but with the amount from the lower leagues who have got to a final. It can happen and hopefully we can be one of those teams.

“You’ve got to start somewhere and Friday could have been an easier draw, but Raith will be saying the exact same thing. It is an exciting one and we’re looking forward to it.”

The draw at least handed the Pars a home tie, only their second at home in the Scottish Cup in six seasons. While the assistant manager hopes to build momentum in this the third of five consecutive home games, he acknowledged that all that matters from Friday night’s tie is the reward of a place in the draw for the next round:-

“We’ve got a run of loads of home games now. Our home form hasn’t been great, in terms of picking up points, etcetera, so hopefully this can be a wee bit of a turning point for us.

“It was a good performance on Saturday, although we only came away with one point but the important thing in cup competitions is to try to get through to the next round.  The performance is great, and if we maintain the sort of performance we’ve had in the last couple of games it gives us a great chance. As we’ve seen in the last two games, you don’t always get what you deserve.  So, in the cup competitions, it’s about getting through to the next round and whatever way we do that we’ll take that.”

After three games against opponents Raith Rovers already this season most Dunfermline fans consider that they are due something from the Fife derby, Dave on the other hand felt that what has happened previously is “irrelevant”:-

“Those games have been tight games, with one goal in both league games and the Viaplay Cup game went to a penalty shoot-out.  So, there’s not been much between the teams. I think we’ve played pretty well in the games but, ultimately, we’ve not taken the points in the ones that mattered in the league.

“They might see it as if they’ve got a sign over us, or whatever, but you can always change that in any given game.  We’re confident that if we play to our best we’ll give ourselves a right good chance of getting through to the next round.  I wouldn’t say we owe them one but if we perform the same sort of way then maybe our luck will change a wee bit.”

In all home matches between Dunfermline and Raith Rovers, Dunfermline lead 29-23 on wins and Dave hopes home advantage can make a difference in this cup derby:-

“Obviously, you’ve got your home crowd there – there will be more Dunfermline fans than there will be Raith, and if we were through at Kirkcaldy that would be flipped on its head.  So, it definitely plays a little bit of a part in it.  Again, they are two different pitches, one is an astro and one’s a great grass pitch but it’s about who turns up on the night. 

“They’ve had a great start to the league campaign, they’ll be a confident side coming here expecting to win, but we expect to win the game ourselves.  We know it’ll be a tough game but we’ve got every confidence if we play to our best there’s every chance we’ll be in the next round of the cup.”

While Dunfermline have had their fair share of injuries this season, ahead of this cup tie Raith Rovers also have defensive worries. A knee injury has kept Keith Watson out since September and while Dylan Corr made an appearance in 87th minute of their last game, it was his first since July. Adam Masson came off at half-time in Friday night’s win at Hamilton but Dave submitted:-

“You can say the same about us; we’re missing Kyle Benedictus and Rhys Breen, so both teams will be missing some key players.  It might have an effect, who knows? They were missing Euan Murray in the cup the other night against Hamilton and managed to win that game. So, they’ve got good players and a decent squad, and they’ll be thinking they’ll be able to put a team out that’s capable of winning.  

“In the last couple of games we’ve conceded a few goals but I thought defensively we’ve looked much better than we had done in the previous few weeks. Chris Hamilton has slotted in and done a really good job in there.

“It’s just part and parcel of football, you’re going to be missing players through injury and suspensions and it is up to the players coming in to stake a claim and make sure when these players come back they’re not going to get back into the side easily.”

Luck deserted Dunfermline against Inverness last Saturday with the woodwork keeping them out seven times. Dave is confident that close games can be changed into wins:-

“To be fair, the last one went in off the post, so maybe that’s the luck changed! It was just a freak game in terms of that. I’ve never seen a game like that, when a team has hit the woodwork so many times. Sometimes you get a goalkeeper just pulling off save after save, but to actually hit the woodwork so often and for the ball not to go in was incredible.

“It wasn’t as if they were ridiculous misses or anything like that. The boys’ finishes or attempts were decent. On another day Lewis McCann could have scored four or five on his own. It’ll turn at some point and they’ll start going in.  The pleasing things is we’re creating the chances and if we weren’t doing that then you would be a lot more worried that what happened at the weekend.

“I think it was important, although we never won the game, to get something out of it.  With the amount they put into that game, following the Dundee United one where we were bitterly disappointed, if they had come away from the Inverness game without anything it would have been a right kick in the teeth for the guys.  They would have known they had played well and deserved more out of the game, but just to actually get something out of it was a little bit of a bonus, and so late in the game as well. If we keep playing the way we are and performing the way we are, then we’ll start turning these close games into wins.”

Dave confirmed that the squad is likely to be the same as against Inverness with Ben Summers probably 50-50 whether he will be available or not. 

“Rhys Breen and Kyle Benedictus are still a few weeks away, but other than that the players are looking fit and healthy.  Matty Todd and Kane (Ritchie-Hosler) came through it well and have trained well again, so that was pleasing after the start to the season they’ve had with injuries.”

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